“So, the cat is out of the bag, and I’m finally able to talk about a project that I have had the priviledge of working on for the past several months. I have been working on the chumby, an inexpensive (sub-$150) Wi-Fi enabled content delivery device that is designed to be used around the home. From the hacker’s perspective, chumby is basically a linux client that runs a Flash player and streams content from the “chumby network”, our content management service. In my mind, these were the goals of the chumby design:
* simple. A non-hacker user familiar with computers– for example, a typical teenager–should be able to set up and use a chumby. In addition to a lot of thought put into the UI, the chumby network’s ability to deliver drag-and-drop content via Flash widgets is the tehnological cornerstone for chumby’s simplicity. It is this simplicity that differentiates chumby from general purpose devices such as PDAs and laptops.
* fun. This is a device whose core consumer market is not the gadget fanatic. It needs to be accessible to everyone, so we are trying to take the industrial design in a direction that we like to call the “anti-iPod”.
* deep. A fatal flaw in many “simple” products is that they are too shallow, and miss key features that would make them useful. Products like the Civa pictureframe, the Ambient Orb, and the Nabaztag rabbit are examples of devices that are too one-dimensional and lack depth. And this leads us up to the most important goal for me–
* yours. The chumby is architected to be as open as possible to anybody who wants to hack it. In the design of the system, we consider not only open source software hackers, but also hardware hackers and artists and “crafters”–e.g., people who are equally skilled in their ability and passion to do non-computer things, such as metalworking, sewing, carpentry, etc.”